Sunday, May 17, 2009

Now Show Me Something Pretty

Thursday, May 14, 2009

For the Sanctity of the F-Word

Okay, I am confused. The movie tells me that if a guy doesn't call you, doesn't ask you out, makes you wait on him, doesn't want to plan stuff, doesn't want to go out, doesn't want to move in together, doesn't want to have kids...HE IS JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.

Is it really that simple? So, what if the guy is shy? Or, what if, when you are busy being coy, the guy arrives at the conclusion that you are not interested in him, and the fear of rejection stops him from making the move, you have been waiting for?

I get confused with these dating guidelines. I would find it endearing if people just went for what they wanted. Both girls, and boys. I like to think that I am an upfront person, and if the opportunity presents itself I wouldn't have any qualms about asking the guy out. We are supposed to be beyond sexism. Equal opportunities for all. Do what we please. So why slow down the dating process with these stupid rules? Who benefits from these stupid rules, anyway? The "Self Help" book industry? And, the "feminists" at Cosmo?

Okay, so this is what I have against Cosmopolitan. The periodical's former editor, self-proclaimed feminist, skeletal Helen Gurley Brown, once said that girls should have border-line anorexia nervosa to maintain an "ideal" body weight. Cosmo, the 80 year old magazine, instead of writing about women in politics, or positive female role models, primarily focuses on "How to Please Your Man", "What Men Like", "Where to Find Eligible Bachelors", and other male-centric topics. Okay, I realize nobody wants to read about the brutalities women are faced with in Darfur and Congo. But, why they are turning their readers into predatory men-hunting sex slaves is beyond me.

Then there are the other delusional feminists, the "Sex and the City" clowns. They believe, men are like shoes, wear them and then dispose them off. These women use feminism to liberate themselves from any moral and/or social obligations. Look, I love pretty outfits as much as the next girl, but since when did it become okay to spend our entire paycheck on our wardrobe? And, now, they are coming up with another "Sex and the City" movie. Hey, at least these women are helping the economy, Paul Krugman style.

And, I don't get the Oprah cult either. Oprah started bugging me back when she plastered her stamp of approval on James Frey's dubious A Million Little Pieces. Later, when it was discovered that Frey exaggerated the truth, and his book was more fictional and less of a druggie hero's triumphal memoir, she called him on her show to yell at him. Dude, Oprah, didn't you have a moral responsibility to check the book's credentials before you endorsed it? And, what is with the "O" logo mugs, which are sold for 12 bucks each? And, if we are supposed to love ourselves first, and be comfortable with our body, embrace all body shapes and forms; then why is Oprah so critical of her own weight gain? Look, I respect the woman's rags to riches story, but I don't respect her bogus commercialism tactics.

By the way, to the future object of my affection, if I am ignoring you, please don't think I am not just that into you. Take my bizarre behaviour as a cue to ask me out :). And, don't ever quote The Secret to me! Don't ever tell me that some bizarre law of attraction brought us together! And, if you dig a girl who avidly reads Cosmo and its clones, remember this sort of "feminism" can backfire too:

Today, my girlfriend broke up with me because she found out that she wasn't really in love with me. She got that advice from an internet survey. FML

EDIT (2:44 PM): I just read it in the news that Oprah apologized to James Frey for shaming him on her show. Looks like blogging does have some journalistic relevance after all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Nikolai Gogol: The Overcoat

In an Apatow world, socially stunted, slobby, scruffy men somehow manage to have attractive blond girlfriends. These men do not really have to work on their social skills, and Mary Jane problem to find love. It is no wonder these Apatow movies turn out to be blockbuster hits, eh?

But, in the real world we get surprised when "less attractive" individuals actually amount to something. For instance, look at the recent, okay not so recent, YouTube sensation, British Susan Boyle. When she first stepped on the stage, the audience and the judges were ready to write her off, but out came that powerful voice, and she had everyone mesmerized. Had she been a Barbie look-alike, people on this side of the pond, probably, would have never heard of her.

Nikolai Gogol's stories are about such "less attractive" social outcasts. He wrote about social nobodies who work in the corrupt government offices. Gogol had hoped to achieve literary success when he moved to St. Petersburg from Ukraine. But, he had trouble finding his footing in the corrupt imperial capital.

"The Overcoat" centers around Akaky Akakievich, who is a government clerk. Akaky Akakievich not only has an unfortunate name, but is also poor, lonely, and unattractive. He spends his day copying government documents, and getting teased by his co-workers. When his old worn-out overcoat reaches the condition where it's beyond repair, Akaky decides to buy a pristine new overcoat, which he cannot afford. He decides to save up, by skipping dinner, and going without the basic utilities. His sole purpose of existence, which was previously about his menial job, now becomes about buying the new overcoat.

Gogol's stories are about people whose lives are marked by anonymity and oblivion. These individuals find themselves lost in a society, where they are judged on their physical appearances, funny names, and inferior social ranks.

I believe, the reason reality shows like "American Idol", or "Britain's Got Talent" are popular, because they give individuals, like Taylor Hicks, Paul Potts, and Susan Boyle, a chance to do something outside of their social realms. In most cases, the contestants are not restricted by their physical appearance, and/or socio-economic status.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Another Day In Paradise

During this economic downturn it is very easy to feel melancholic. Recently, I went to get my passport renewed, and I saw that a whole bunch of stores in the mall, where the government office was located, were having a "closing down sale" because they couldn't keep up with their lease. The thought of so many people losing their jobs made me extremely sad. Which sort of worked in my benefit, since due to the new government policy, Canadians are not allowed to smile in their passport pictures. I guess, this is the government's way of defying the stereotypical view of our innate Canadian niceness.

One of my friends has X-linked myotubular myopathy. Meaning where his twin sister has healthy legs and muscle strength, my friend has trouble moving around. Earlier today, he was telling me that he has a very hard time staying in touch with people, and going out, because he has to either rely on others, or on TransHelp to get to places. This made me realize, here is another thing I take for granted. The ability to walk. The ability to drive.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled the fighting [in Northern Pakistan] this week and provincial authorities have estimated that as many as 500,000 people may have been displaced.

One of the colossal mistakes we make is that we focus on what we don't have, instead of being grateful for what we do have. There are people getting laid off, and shops getting closed, but at least in this country we have a welfare system, where the unemployed would be looked after, by the government. Unfortunately, we can't say the same about the people in the third world countries. For instance, there is a humanitarian crisis in Pakistan right now, but the country's president instead of being with his people in their time of need decided to travel to the US to ask for more aid, which he would eventually end up spending on himself.

Pakistani children displaced from Buner reach out for food at a United Nations camp in Takht Bai, about 85 miles northwest of Islamabad.

We do not get to determine our place of birth, family, or country; but for the most part they shape our destiny. Any one of us could have easily been one of the individuals in this picture above.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Star Trek

Don't worry Trekkies, no spoilers here :).

Urmm...Now that the obvious "review" has been successfully plastered on my blog, here are my thoughts on the movie.

I found "Star Trek", the TV series, boring, and I have never been a fan of the canon. Back in the day, my friend used to write short stories based on the series, and since FanFiction didn't exist back then, for the sake of my coolometer/geekometer (however you wanna look at it), he used to email them to me. So whatever previous knowledge I had of the series was due in part to his stories.

I went to watch the movie because of J.J. Abrams. And, folks, Abrams definitely built up his already impressive resume with this movie. There is an excellent mix of action sequences, charm, and humour. It is an entertaining movie, which takes you in, from the get go.

The storyline deals with the eternal struggle between the mind and body, shown through the contrasting characters of Spock (Zachary Qunito from the Heroes), and Captain Kirk (Chris Pine). And, OH MY GOD, Chris Pine is oh so dreamy. Zachary Qunito fits the role of Spock to the T. They both do complete justice to their respective roles, and are a pleasure to watch.

Trekkie or not, DO WATCH THIS MOVIE!
Beware, sadly, CNN's holograms sorta stole the CGI's thunder.

Here is what the Onion has to say:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

XKCD: Swine Flu

One of the frustrating things about Swine Flu, other than people's blatant ignorance, is the amount of dedication our media and government have provided to this outbreak.

Recently, for my research, I have started to look at the correlation between TB and HIV. TB has been on the rise since 1980s, but this problem is more prevalent in Southeast Asia, and Africa. That is why we don't really care how it has become a major cause of death among HIV patients in Africa.

Usually when doctors misdiagnose a TB patient, or when the patient does not have the money to follow the dosing regimen properly, the bacteria becomes more deadly. HIV patients who come in contact with the deadly TB normally end up dying, since their immune system is already compromised. Basically, all because we do not have the means to educate the doctors, or the patients properly. And, I find that disappointing and gut-wrenchingly depressing.